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FMFSOM TV Club - Al Grito de Guerra: Las Batallas Bulgaras

The first episode takes us through the 1986 and 1994 World Cup and the role Bulgaria played in both.

Soccer - World Cup Mexico 86 - Second Round - Mexico v Bulgaria Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

The first episode of the Al Grito de Guerra series is named Las Batallas Bulgaras. The famous Bulgaria matches from the ‘86 and ‘94 World Cups are the base of the first stories about the World Cup, this after an opening about the meaning of the Mexican National team that serves as the base for the rest of the series.

Spoiler Alert

The 1986 World Cup started three years prior to its actual inauguration, defining how we acquired it in the first place, which some have probably forgotten about already (Colombia pulling out as hosts, resulting in Mexico gaining the rights in 1983). The destructive earthquake of 1986 that brought questions regarding the hosting and Mexico’s overall infrastructure on a date so marked that Mexico City still celebrates it’s earthquake drill every September 19th, the anniversary of that earthquake (which coincides with the same date of another largely destructive earthquake in Mexico City in 2017, where many felt it, including yours truly). The story then moves to the World Cup, the game against Belgium, and then switches to Hugo Sanchez and the high expectations heading into the match against Paraguay that was such a letdown for Mexico and especially Hugo. Then goes the match against Iraq and how Mexico got the win to seal their group, something people were surprised with.

Next up is the Bulgaria match with the great Hristo Stoichkov speaking (although he’s a little positive for his Bulgaria, it was never that close) about the famous Negrete goal and the easiest match in a World Cup do or die game, and thus Mexico’s only victory. The Germany match is barely talked about, probably left for a future episode. From there on to the 1990 World Cup from which Mexico was eliminated because of cheating, since they used overaged players in a youth tournament. The documentary doesn’t talk about the stupidity of FMF front office execs, who went to FIFA following the Youth World Cup sanction and ended up getting punished even harder, with Mexico missing every tournament for two years, including the World Cup.

The arrival of Cesar Luis Menotti, which many believe caused a total change in Mexican football (and others think is overrated), became the Mexican National Team coach after the end of Mexico’s suspension. It didn’t last long however, and soon after (perhaps too soon) began Miguel Mejia Baron’s tenure. The World Cup qualification gets a mention and then it’s on to the 1993 Copa America, where Mexico got to a final in an historic tournament that is really held in high esteem and that was something of an upheaval in society (something the people up top should know now that Mexico doesn’t play in CONMBOL related tournaments, and even look content to play inside the limited CONCACAF confines set up to squeeze money out of fans). Then the 1994 World Cup and once again a very good review of all the matches. It was a great recap to the games, better than the games in 1986 in the same episode, especially the match against Ireland. Then of course, it closes with the Bulgaria match.

Now, with Stoichkov there are great stories about the goal and match in general. It mentions things like Luis Garcia’s red card in the Round of 16 match, something that the TV Azteca critic forgets when he criticizes the current NT players. Then, the most controversial issue about how Miguel Mejia Baron didn’t make a single substitution in 120 minutes. There are some added situations about the supposed reasons why Hugo Sanchez didn’t play, although it doesn’t change the fact Carlos Hermosillo also remained on the bench, and the simple fact that not making a single sub in 120 minutes is CRAZY. The despair of the shootout ensues before closing out the episode on a positive note, which is Stoichkov talking about consoling Campos and footage of the keeper being part of Stoichkov’s farewell match in Bulgaria (the absence of Campos’ point of view is really felt).

End of Spoiler Alert

Overall, it was a solid start of the series with the highlight being the interviews and stories as well as the good use of footage of the Hazaña series. It will now move to the Germany matches in Episode 2, hopefully with even more as Germany not only has been the better team, but has more impactful moments for the Mexican National team. Both episodes 2 and 3 are already out on Vix+.